I’m not talking about the last couple of bites on someone’s plate, or the dinner entree fail that even the dog wouldn’t eat.
I’m talking about when tons of food goes to waste.
One of the orchards we saw in Grandview over Thanksgiving was hit by hail this past June. The Fuji apples ripened up just fine, but had enough dings in them to be graded by inspectors as ‘not good enough’ for retail sales.
I don’t know why the orchard owner wasn’t able to sell them to processors for applesauce or juice, like other farms did. He may not have been able to find workers to harvest them, or it might have been that the price for sauce apples wouldn’t pay the cost of picking them.
Instead, the apples are left on the tree, to eventually drop and rot over the winter. Friends and neighbors have been told that they are welcome to come pick all they want, at no cost. Sometimes, farmers in this type of situation will call gleaning groups to come and take home all they can, to try and let someone get some good out of all their time and effort.
This isn’t an isolated incident. I know of tons of tomatoes that were disced back into the field last year, because there weren’t wholesale orders to fill. That farm had allowed gleaners in the past, but when one tripped over a piece of irrigation pipe and sued the farm, they could no longer allow gleaning because of the higher liability insurance rates.
We saw thousands of pumpkins in our own neck of the woods, plowed back into the ground because there were no buyers.
I’ve heard stories about the government dumping millions of pounds of cheese into the ocean back in the 70’s, to keep prices up.
My point is – even with the incredible droughts and losses in agriculture this past summer and expected food shortages this winter, there are crops that have been abandoned to rot in the field because of barriers (generally bureaucratic, but often also financial) between farmers and consumers.
I don’t know what the solution is. But this… this is just tragic.